The Junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (JROTC) is a Federal program sponsored by the United States Armed Forces in High Schools across the United States. The program was originally created as part of the National defense Act of 1916 and later expanded under the 1964 ROTC Vitalization Act.
According to Title 10, Section 2031 of the United States Code, the purpose of JROTC is "to instill in students in [United States] secondary educational institutions the values of citizenship, service to the United States, and personal responsibility and a sense of accomplishment." Additional objectives are established by the service departments of the Department of Defense. Under 542.4 of Title 32 (National Defense) of the Code of Federal Regulations, the Department of the Army has declared those objectives for each cadet to be:
- Developing good citizenship and patriotism
- Developing self-reliance, leadership, and responsiveness to constituted authority.
- Improving the ability to communicate well both orally and in writing.
- Developing an appreciation of the importance of physical fitness.
- Increasing a respect for the role of the U.S. Armed Forces in support of national objectives.
- Developing knowledge of team building skills and basic military skills.
- Taking 2 to 4 years of the course allows the cadets to instantly rank higher if they pursue a military career.
Section 524.5 of the CFR National Defense title states in part that JROTC should "provide meaningful leadership instruction of benefit to the student and of value to the Armed Forces. Students will acquire: (1) An understanding of the fundamental concept of leadership, military art and science, (2) An introduction to related professional knowledge, and (3) An appreciation of requirements for national security. The dual roles of citizen/soldier and soldier/citizen are studied. These programs will enable cadets to better serve their country as leaders, as citizens, and in military service should they enter it. The JROTC and NDCC are not, of themselves, officer-producing programs but should create favorable attitudes and impressions toward the Services and toward careers in the Armed Forces."
General Colin Powell said in his 1995 autobiography that "the armed forces might get a youngster more inclined to enlist as a result of Junior ROTC," but added that "Inner-city kids, many from broken homes, found stability and role models in Junior ROTC." US Congress found in the Recruiting, Retention, and Reservist Promotion Act of 2000 that JROTC and similar programs "provide significant benefits for the Armed Forces, including significant public relations benefits."